Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Science

First Committee Member

Krystyna A. Stave

Second Committee Member

Robert Futrell

Third Committee Member

Alfredo Fernandez Gonzalez

Fourth Committee Member

Sajjad Ahmad

Number of Pages



For an urban area to be sustainable, its resources cannot be depleted faster than they can replenish. If an urban area is to provide a high quality of life (QOL), it must offer and maintain an amenity package that satisfies its resident's preferences. Past studies on these topics all have a common thread: sustainability and QOL both pertain to people's relationship to capital. Capital is something that can accumulate and add value to a person or society. If sustainability and QOL are a function of people's relationship with capital, how they use it, deplete it, replenish it and transform it into something else is important to know.

Using the system dynamics method for understanding complex problems, I model the relationship between people and capital and illustrate how capital levels determine migration in and out of an urban area. The most common forms of capital affecting urban systems are economic, natural, human and social capital. Previous models that incorporate two or three of these stocks helped inform the structure of this model. However, no model includes the dynamics of all four forms of capital. I build upon these models to provide a more comprehensive model of society's behavior. By validating the model based on historic examples of urban decline and re-growth, I explain the implications and opportunities for analysis of urban behavior with this systemic approach.


Capital; Capital movements; City dwellers; Metropolitan areas; Quality of life; Sustainability; System Dynamics; Urban renewal


Growth and Development | Place and Environment | Sustainability | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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